Archaeologists in Peru discover mass child sacrifice site

An global team of scientists funded by the National Geographic Society has discovered what appears to be the largest instance of mass child sacrifice in human history on a site known as "Huanchaquito-Las Llamas", on the northern coast of Peru. 1450 near the capital of the Chimu Empire, an area that is now the city of Trujillo on Peru's northern coast.

Quilter is reportedly heading a team of scientists who will analyse DNA samples from the children's remains to see if they were related and figure out which areas of the Chimú empire the sacrificed youth came from. While human sacrifice was common among ancient civilizations such as the Incas and the Aztecs, the discovery which was supported by grants from the National Geographic Society, sheds new light on the Chimu Empire in Peru. The delay between the initial discovery and actual examination of the site was held up until the worldwide, interdisciplinary team, led by Gabriel Prieto of the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo and John Verano of Tulane University, were able to get sufficient funding for. a proper excavation. The excavations continued through 2016, and resulted in the discovery of more than 140 sets of child remains and 200 llamas, according to National Geographic.

The llamas, which suffered the same fate, were all younger than 18 months and buried facing east towards the Andes mountains.

An accidental discovery of skeletal remains in 2011 on a site formerly known as Huanchaquito-Las Llamas was the precursor to an archaeological excavation that began in 2014.

The children, along with 200 juvenile llamas, are estimated to have been sacrificed about 550 years ago and the remains were found in La Libertad outside Trujillo, Peru's third-largest city, the Washington Post reported citing a National Geographic report. The skeletal remains of both the children and the animals show cuts to the sternum and rib dislocations. "It is ritual killing, and it's very systematic", Verano said.

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Read the full National Geographic story here.

The children appear to have been ritually sacrificed, possibly at a time when floods caused by the El Niño weather system were sweeping the Peruvian coastline. They had all apparently died of violent head wounds, and it is surmised they may have participated in the sacrifices.

Based on evidence from layers of dried mud, the report states it's believed that all the human and animal sacrifices took place at the same time.

It's thought the ritual was a single event, which if confirmed would be the largest single mass child murder event known of in the world.

The site is a short distance from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Chan Chan.